England 241 for 3 (Malan 103*, Morgan 91) beat New Zealand 165 (Southee 39, Parkinson 4-47) by 76 runs
Dawid Malan struck the fastest century in England’s T20I history to set up a series-levelling win in Napier.
Malan, who reached the landmark in 48 deliveries, laid the platform for England’s highest T20I total, surpassing the 230 they made against South Africa in Mumbai in 2016. With Eoin Morgan also recording a career-best T20I score – he made 91 from 41 balls – England added 182 in 74 balls for the third wicket. It was the highest third-wicket partnership by any team in the history of T20I cricket and the fourth-highest partnership for any wicket.
The result leaves the series poised at 2-2 with only one game, in Auckland on Sunday, to come.
For Malan, in particular, this may prove a vital innings. Even before this match, he had a fine T20I record – he had registered five half-centuries in his first eight T20I games – but probably needed to produce something special to remain in contention for selection once the likes of Jason Roy, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes return to the side.
This was pretty special. Having started his innings by feasting on any width offered by the seamers, he also showed a willingness to use his feet to the spinners – four of his sixes came off them – and hit across the line to target the short, square boundaries. And, having reached his half-century from 31 balls, he accelerated sharply to record his century just 17 deliveries later. At one stage he struck five sixes and a four in nine deliveries with his ability to hit straight and on both sides of the wicket offering no room for error.
It was the second T20I century from an England player, with Alex Hales – now, surely, even further from a recall – taking 60 deliveries to make his against Sri Lanka in Chattogram in 2014.
It looked, for a while, as if Morgan might break the record Malan had set minutes earlier. He had struck 28 – comprised of four sixes and a four – in his previous six deliveries and, with three balls of the innings remaining, required nine more for the milestone. Instead he fell to a catch at long-off.
New Zealand’s bowling wilted in the face of the assault. Gaining no assistance from the surface or the conditions, they found their variations picked comfortably by the England pair and the short boundaries – particularly square of the wicket – unforgiving of any error. Ish Sodhi’s figures – he conceded 49 from three overs, with his final one costing 28 – were particularly ugly, though Blair Tickner recovered relatively well after his first two overs cost 32.
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Even Mitchell Santner, who had 2 for 2 after eight deliveries and has toyed with England’s batsmen throughout much of the series, conceded 20 off his third over.
Morgan was twice caught off full tosses – once, on 51 off Santner and once, on 59, off Tickner – that were subsequently adjudged to have been over waist height. He was also dropped on 11 when Mitchell did well to cling on to a tough chance on the midwicket boundary but then released the ball as he realised his momentum was about to carry him over the rope.
Mitchell, a late replacement in the New Zealand side for the unwell Jimmy Neesham, was punished for the error by conceding 25 from his only over of the innings, the 19th, with Morgan taking him for three sixes. The innings lifted Morgan from 12th to seventh in the list of all time T20I run-makers.
New Zealand, requiring their highest total batting second to win, started well in reply. Martin Guptill hit successive sixes off Chris Jordan – the second of them, a cut, carrying out of the ground – while Colin Munro struck three fours from his first seven balls. They reached 50 from the first ball of the fifth over.
But Tom Curran then produced a yorker which Guptill chipped to mid-on and Jordan a slower ball which Tim Seifert scooped in the same direction. When Matt Parkinson, hit for six the previous delivery, held his nerve and lured Colin de Grandhomme into another drive towards the longest boundary, New Zealand’s chances subsided sharply.
Parkinson had Munro taken in similar fashion with his next delivery and Mitchell in his next over. Had Pat Brown, at long-on, held on to a relatively straightforward chance offered by Tim Southee on 13, Parkinson might have ended with a five-for. Either way, it was a performance that justified his inclusion ahead of Adil Rashid.
By that stage, New Zealand’s task was almost hopeless. But Southee, swinging merrily, dented Parkinson’s figures and England will have been just a little disappointed by some of the outfielding. Twice boundaries were conceded as fielders – once Lewis Gregory and once Brown – misjudged the bounce of the ball approaching them. A direct hit from Jordan to run out Sodhi will have provided a reminded or the desired standards.
Still, having lose the previous two games, this was a much-improved performance from England with the final margin of victory the fourth biggest, in terms of runs, they have recorded in this format of the game. As their ODI team has shown on many occasions, on flat wickets they really do – even without a host of first-choice players – present formidable opposition.